“A very interesting feature of the agitation at this time was the formation of societies of Female Reformers. The “Manchester Observer” of July 17th, 1819, contains a letter from Mary Hallam, of Stockport – (was this the mother of Ephraim Hallam?) – giving an account of the rise and progress of their society, which was formed on July 1st of that year. A fortnight later (July 31st) the above mentioned paper contains a report of the Female Reforming Society of Stockport, held in the large room at the Windmill.* Mrs, Hallworth was elected president, Mrs Stewart secretary, and Mrs. Hambleton treasurer. The other members of the committee were Miss Goodier, Miss Knowles, Miss Lowe, Mrs Hodson, Mrs Whalley, Mrs Kenworthy, Mrs Rhodes, Miss Longson, and Miss Johnstone.1


*The Windmill, the preaching room of the Rev. Joseph Harrison, was in Edward Street, on the site of Messrs Hollindrake’s showroom.

  1. The Stockport Advertiser, 20 Feb, 1925.

[Note: Miss Goodier’s name appears on a pamplet as one of the persons selected to investigate John Baggeley’s character on Dec 23, 1818. Miss Longson is possibly related to John Longson, shopkeeper, who was Harrison’s bail on Sept 1, 1819. Miss Johnstone is probably John Johnston’s wife. (he was a Blanketeer and Reformer imprisoned at Chester.)]


Samuel Bamford proposes giving woman the right to vote at Reform Meetings

Saddleworth (Lydgate Reform Meeting) May 4, 1818. Notes taken by John Livesey.

“…if the woman would Advocate the cause it would prosper for were [sic] there is a peticoat [sic] Government they have great influence & can bias there [sic] husband almost to any thing therfore [sic] I beg that when there is a vote put or a question in future that the woman will put up there [sic] hands for if a reformation is good for the husband it must be be good for his wife & children…”

Samuel Bamford
Lydgate Reform Meeting
May 4, 1818

Heywood Reform Meeting July 6, 1818. Notes taken by John Livesey.

“…Ladies you must promote this cause of Reform along with your Husbands & sweethearts this expression drew a scarlet bloom over the countenances of all the young women…don’t be ashamed but when the votes are called for to the Resolutions hold up your hands you have as much interest in this business as any of the mix if it is good for your sweet hearts & Husbands it must be good for you then make yourselves Worthy Busines & expouse this cause Jointly with the Men…”

Samuel Bamford
Heywood Reform Meeting
July 6, 1818


Bamford later wrote about these events in his book- Passages in the Life of a Radical.

“Numerous meetings followed in various parts of the country; and Lancashire, and the Stockport borders of Cheshire, were not the last to be concerned in public demonstrations for reform. At one of these meetings, which took place at Lydgate, in Saddleworth, and at which Bagguley, Drummond, Fitton, Haigh, and others were the principal speakers, I, in the course of’ an address, insisted on the right, and the propriety also, of females who were present at such assemblages voting by a show of hand for or against the resolutions. This was a new idea; and the women, who attended numerously on that bleak ridge, were mightily pleased with it. The men being nothing dissentient, when the resolution was Put the women held up their hands amid much laughter; and ever from that time females voted with the men at the Radical meetings. I was not then aware that the new impulse thus given to political movement would in a short time be applied to charitable and religious purposes. But it was so; our females voted at every subsequent meeting; it became the practice, female political unions were formed, with their chairwoman, committees, and other officials; and from us the practice was soon borrowed, very judiciously no doubt, and applied in a greater or less degree to the promotion of religious and charitable institutions.”